Celebrities, professional journalists and indigenous people from across the world have visited Standing Rock, North Dakota — and now, some Mizzou students have too.
On Monday night, students gathered in the Leadership Auditorium for a Standing Rock discussion to highlight the social and environmental justice issues surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline. The event kicked off MU's Sustainability Week, an effort between the Environmental Leadership Office and Sustain Mizzou in partnership with the student group Science, Health and Environmental Journalism @ Mizzou.
Guest speaker Talli Nauman kicked off the night with a presentation on her experiences covering the Standing Rock protests and the native communities involved. Nauman is a journalist with Native Sun News Today and has over 40 years of experience. She has written over 100 stories about pipeline protests.
Nauman she talked about the history of pipeline fights in the region, including the Keystone 1 and Keystone XL ventures. Because the Dakota Access Pipeline is planned to run beneath the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers and Lake Oahe near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, the tribe considers it to be a risk to the clean water and ancient burial grounds of the area.
With the threat of the latest pipeline, protests began to form. Spills, leaks and craters are among the environmental dangers people worried about. "Spirit camps" from Montana through the Dakotas created alliances and grassroots places where people could learn to resist. Nauman described the direct action training, or "moccasins-on-the-ground training," that allowed people to stand up for what they believed.
Standing Rock, located outside the headquarters of the Native American government in North Dakota, has hosted a multitude of marches, rallies and relays — with prayer being the main manner of protest. Nauman describes the conflict in one simple way:
"It's like two trains running on the same track, and they both claim the Constitution."
Documentary Journalism students Meg Vatterott, Rachel Tiedemann and Nicholas Cook also presented their work documenting Standing Rock protests. The three spoke about the balance they had to strike between advocacy and journalism. They participated in a panel discussion along with Nauman; Randi Anderlik, a member of Four Directions at MU; Perry Bigsoldier, a founder of the Protectors of Water and Land in Columbia; and Lauren Puckett, the president of the Science, Health and Environmental Journalism student group.
All recommended educating oneself and thinking critically about the issues. As Bigsoldier said, "There's more to life than material things. That just seems to be what the majority of this country believes in and thinks." He wants to protect his ancestors seven generations down the line.
Sustainability Week will continue until Friday, April 14, with various events across campus. Check them out below!
E-Waste Drive (10 a.m.-4 p.m., Student Center): Donate your electronics and learn about e-waste issues around the world.
Recycle Mountain (10 a.m.-2 p.m., Speakers Circle): Learn about recycling and the amount of university waste that is disposed; games and smoothies will be provided.
Ecochella (6-8 p.m., Peace Park): A free concert celebrating local bands from a variety of genres.
Native Tree Planting (3-4 p.m., 600 University Village): A community tree planting event will plant 60 native trees as a symbol of gratitude for the MU campus and its outdoors.